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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs > Releases > Remarks > 2005 East Asian and Pacific Affairs Remarks, Testimony, and Speeches

Resumption of Fourth Round of Six-Party Talks: Evening Transit, China World Hotel

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Beijing, China
September 17, 2005

A/S HILL: We’ve had a very busy day. The pace has really quickened in the last two days.  I think you all know the Chinese circulated a draft yesterday.  Several delegations, including ours, had some difficulties with it, but we are trying to work with it and we’re really trying to reach something with it.  Obviously I don’t want to get into too many of the specifics, but it has involved a lot of calls back to our capitals. We had a fairly intense evening with it, dealing with the various members of the Six Party Talks, but working very closely with the Chinese.  How this all turns out, we don’t know yet. We are going to try to come up with some other ideas in the coming few hours and we’ll have to see where we are. 


I think what is important for us is that we cannot create ambiguities at this stage that could lead to confusion in the next phase.  That is, we are at a set of principles, but being in general principles doesn’t mean you create ambiguities and lead the way to confusion and lead the way to problems in the future.  We are really trying to hold to the principle that when we have principles, we stress clarity with these principles.  We’re not there yet and I can’t say whether we’re going to have success or not, but what I can assure you is we’re all working very hard to see if we can achieve something in this round.  Thank you very much.  If there are no questions…


QUESTION:  Is the U.S. prepared to accept a deal, accept the draft?


A/S HILL:  We want a deal.  I think the good news is everybody wants a deal, but we want a deal that helps us create momentum for the next phase.  Remember, this is just a set of signposts that will help guide the way in the negotiations, and what we can’t do is try to reach a deal at this phase that will lead to being lost or confused in the next phase.  What we do here needs to help the next phase and not push problems off to the next phase.  That’s our guiding principle here.  We have to see how we’re going to do.


QUESTION:  Mr. Ambassador, you emphasized the no ambiguity.  Meanwhile you put some language on the peaceful use or light water reactors.  We need to revive the argument about the sequence?  Is that what you meant about ambiguity?


A/S HILL:  You’re very well informed, but I really don’t want to get into too many specifics on that, except to say that there is a certain sequence that’s important.  We’re here to involve ourselves to try to create the circumstance where we can have a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.  We’re trying to make sure that we can get to the abandonment of nuclear weapons and nuclear programs, especially in the D.P.R.K.  We cannot agree to things that take us away from that goal.  Some of the discussions of peaceful use and the discussions of light water reactors really lead to a situation where we are not dealing with the fundamental problems.  We have to deal with those fundamental problems.  So there is a sequence.  Some people have suggested we really shouldn’t do sequence now, we should just be doing principles or elements of the agreement.  But ultimately, we do have to deal with the sequence of some of these issues, and that’s what we’re trying to do.  It’s not easy work.  When you have six parties involved, you really have six different opinions, sometimes seven different opinions.  We have to work through that.


QUESTION:  Mr. Ambassador, many people were speculating that tomorrow would be the last day of this current phase of the fourth round of the Six-Party Talks.  Do you think that tomorrow we’re going to get a whole day, or are things going to be wrapped up in the morning?  Judging by what you said perhaps we’re going to go into well into next week, perhaps into next weekend.


A/S HILL: The history of these things is such that you do tend to go into extra innings.  Our hope was that tomorrow would be the last day.  We’d like to catch a flight back to the U.S., be there in time for NFL football Sunday night.  We don’t know if that’s going to be possible, but certainly we’re really trying to wrap this up as soon as possible, because we really want to get on with the next phase of getting very specific, of going into questions like verification, which are essential to this agreement.  We have to see how we do, but what we are guided by is the idea that what we do now needs to help what we do in the future, and not cause more confusion in what we do in the future.


QUESTION:  Can you be a bit more specific?


A/S HILL:  I can’t be more specific.  I would love to be more specific, but I don’t want to be specific in a way that makes it more difficult for me to work in the next 24 hours. 


QUESTION:  How does this relate to light water reactor?


A/S HILL:  Obviously, a light water reactor is part of the issue.  Peaceful use is part of the issue.  But the fundamental issue is getting the D.P.R.K. to understand that its security is not tied up in nuclear weapons.  Its security is tied up in good relations with other countries – good relations with its neighbors, good relations with the United States.  That involves a change in logic for the DPRK, and so it takes a little time to effect that.


QUESTION:  Mr. Ambassador, would you be willing to consider a recess in order to move forward?


A/S HILL:  Recess is always a possibility.  We did it in August.  As I said in August, I’ll say today, we really think we’re kind of close, and we did have a recess for 37 days.  Frankly, I would just like to keep going until we get something.  If we don’t get something, we’ll have to regroup and figure out what else we do.  The problem of nuclear weapons is not a problem we can walk away from.  We have to figure out a solution.  We’d like to get the six party process to be the means for that solution.


QUESTION:  The North Koreans don’t talk to us very much.  Do you have any inkling of their reaction to the revision of the fourth draft?


A/S HILL:  I’m really shocked that they don’t talk to you very much, but you should ask them more.  One issue we have to keep in mind is that, as we look at this agreement, I don’t want to be more concerned about North Korea’s security than North Koreans are.  They need to be very active participants.  We’ve talked to them fairly consistently and everyone is working very hard to bridge disagreements, and I would hope the D.P.R.K. is doing that as well.


QUESTION:  Did North Korea gives some definitive answer to the modified version of the draft?


A/S HILL:  You’ll have to ask the Chinese, or you’ll have to ask the D.P.R.K. whether they’ve done that.  Clearly, they have some problems with the draft.  There’s no question about that.  But we have some problems as well.  We try to keep these lines of communication open.  This is not an easy diplomatic process, believe me.


QUESTION:  What do you hope to achieve tomorrow?  Do you hope to have a response back and to have a fifth draft?


A/S HILL:  We’re trying to deal with some of the problems, some of the differences that are present in the current draft.  We’re working this here in Beijing, but also back in capitals.  We want to see if we can get there, but we’re not going to get there by papering over differences, pretending differences don’t exist and kicking the can down the road.  We’ve got to deal with this now.  If we don’t deal with this now, there’s no point in going on and pushing the differences off in the future.  That’s why we’re working very hard right now.


QUESTION: Do you feel any indication that North Korea is ready to make a strategic decision on this matter of nuclear programs?


A/S HILL:  It’s hard to say. I’m sorry to keep falling back on that old line that you have to ask them.  If they haven’t made the strategic decision, it’s kind of difficult to imagine going forward.  They have to make that decision.  They have to come to the realization that the rest of us have come to, which is nuclear weapons for North Korea do nothing for North Korea’s security.  Indeed, nuclear weapons probably harm North Korea’s security more than anything else.  They have to come to that conclusion.  We certainly have an opinion about it, but they have to feel that opinion themselves.


QUESTION:  Did you talk to the North Koreans today?


A/S HILL:  I’ve talked to the North Koreans today, absolutely, and I’ve talked to everybody else today.  I’m talking to you today as well.  We’re really, really working very hard on this.


QUESTION:  Is the U.S. willing to compromise and give the North Koreans a light water reactor so you can have a deal? 


A/S HILL:  Our issue is not a pledging conference for future nuclear assets.  Our issue is to get rid of these terrible, terrible weapons that have been developed over the last two decades and a half in the D.P.R.K.  The D.P.R.K. has a nuclear program that has produced a lot more plutonium than it has electricity.  That’s what we’ve got to focus on, that’s what we’re continuing to focus on.


QUESTION:  Did you have bilateral talks with North Korea today?


A/S HILL:  I spoke with the North Koreans today.  We didn’t have formal talks.  We had some more formal talks with some of our other partners, and at the dinner tonight we had some opportunity to talk to the D.P.R.K. as well.


QUESTION:  Mr. Hill, you said many times that the fourth draft was good.  And what do you think about the fifth one.  Is it better for you to make….?


A/S HILL:  The Chinese have called the current revisions actually revisions to the fourth draft.  So I guess you’d have to call it the fourth and a half draft.  They’re trying to bridge differences.  They’re trying very hard.  I have to give the Chinese a lot of credit for trying to do this.  They have two roles.  On the one hand, they’re active participants in the process.  On the other hand, they’re a sort of secretariat to the process.  Clearly, when you try to meet someone’s needs, then you cause distance with someone else’s needs.  Again, I don’t want to get too specific because the more specific I get in public, the more difficult it is to bridge these things.  I want to bridge them.  I want to go home.  I want to watch NFL football on Sunday night.  Thank you very much.  I really think you ought to take the rest of the night off.  OK.  See you later.


QUESTION: Anything planned for tomorrow?


A/S HILL:  A lot more meetings.  I think we’ll be out at the Diaoyutai Guest House early in the morning, and we’ll take it from there.  Thank you very much.


QUESTION:  When shall we meet tomorrow morning?


A/S HILL:  I don’t know if I’ll have any new information for you tomorrow morning because I plan to go from these microphones to get some sleep.  I’ll probably be on the phone a lot.  We’ll probably head off around 8 o’clock in the morning from here.  Thank you.

Released on September 19, 2005

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